KBC's question on Vivekananda Yoga University, the world's first yoga university outside India, left many puzzled. While the right answer is Los Angeles, which is where VaYU was launched in June 2020, a lot of questions about the university still had the masses curious. If you're still trying to read up on Vivekananda Yoga University and everything there is to know about it, you've reached the right place.
World's First Yoga University Outside India
Commemorating the sixth International Yoga Day celebrations on June 24, 2020, the world's first international yoga university was launched in LA. The Vivekananda Yoga University or VaYU offers programmes that combine scientific principles and modern research approaches to ancient Indian practice.
VaYU was founded on the principles of Swami Vivekananda's teachings for universal welfare. It offers online graduate courses based on scientific principles and modern research approaches to yoga as well as master's program. VaYU's faculty has been recruited from SVYASA, which was India's first yoga university. VaYU offers Online MS (Yoga), a cohort-based four-semester program with 30 credits. The program is designed for working professionals as well as those seeking advanced knowledge of yoga.
Noted Indian yoga guru Dr. H R Nagendra, Chancellor of Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (SVYASA) which he founded in 2002, became the first Chairman of VaYU. Nagendra is well known for being the yoga consultant to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Additionally, Jaipur Foot USA Chairperson Prem Bhandari is the founding director of VaYU.
Swami Vivekanadan, a monk from India introduced Hinduism to the western world through his historic speech in Chicago in 1893. Now, 127 years later, another monk from India Dr H R Nagendra is bringing to the western world the age old yoga science - Guru-Shishya Parampara by establishing this university," Bhandari said.
Bhandari added that Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla has been instrumental in helping realise the vision to set up the university in the US. He lauded Foreign Secretary's support to further expand its reach to take benefits of the ancient Indian practice into other parts of the world. Furthermore, Bhandari said VaYU is helping propagate Modi's message of the importance of yoga in achieving harmony and a healthier planet and how yoga is a force for unity that does not discriminate on basis of race, colour, gender, faith and nations.
The launch of VaYU was lauded by eminent yoga gurus and hailed by millions of Indians. Indian spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar called the launch of the world's first yoga university outside India a "milestone in a world of yoga." Yoga guru Baba Ramdev expressed immense pride at the launch of VaYU and expressed confidence that the yoga university would enhance India's pride in the field of yoga research.
Who is Dr HR Nagendra?
Before embarking on the path of yoga and making significant contributions in the field, Dr Nagendra has had quite an extensive knowledge in various fields. He received his doctorate in 1968, post which he served as faculty of IISc in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Dr Nagendra did his Post Doctoral Research Fellow in the University of British Columbia, Canada in 1970, then moved to NASA Marshall Space Flight Centre, USA as Post-Doctoral Research Associate in 1971.
Dr Nagendra then moved to Harvard University, USA as a Consultant at the Engineering Science Laboratory in 1972. He was also the Visiting Staff at Imperial College of Science and Technology, London. It wasn't until 1975 that he joined Vivekananda Kendra, a service mission, as a whole-time worker. He is the Secretary of Vivekananda Kendra Yoga Research Foundation, Bangalore and the Director of Indian Yoga Institute, Prashanti Kutiram.
He is also serving as President of Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana, Bangalore, the Yoga University in Bangalore since 2002.
Dr Nagendra has published more than 60 papers and authored 35 books on yoga. Recognizing his contributions, the government of India in 2016 awarded him Padma Shri and the MoHFW had awarded him the title of Yoga Shri in 1997.